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This one is about: Traumatic Reactions - Recognizing Signs in Kids


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Recognizing Signs of Trauma
  from _Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma_, by Peter A. Levine, PhD.

Sometimes children may need extra help processing their experiences, so parents should learn to recognize symptoms that indicate a that a child is in need of more intensive, professional work around processing medical issues. The following is excerpted from _Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma_, by Peter A. Levine, PhD. Levine's comments should serve as reassurance for parents that neither they, the medical professionals, not the child are at fault or to blame should a traumatic reaction occur -- human, biologically-based instinct is instead the root cause. Quoting from Levine:

"The fact that hospitalization and medical procedures routinely produce traumatic results comes as a surprise to many people. The traumatic aftereffects from prolonged immobilizations, hospitalizations, and especially surgeries are often long-lasting and severe. Even though a person may recognize that an operation is necessary, and despite the fact that they are unconscious as the surgeon cuts through flesh, muscle, and bone, it still registers in the body as a life-threatening event. On the "cellular level," the body perceives that it has sustained a wound serious enough to place it in mortal danger. Intellectually, we may believe in an operation, but on a more primal level, our bodies do not. Where trauma is concerned, the perception of the instinctual nervous system carries more weight--much more. This biological fact is a primary reason why surgery will often produce a post-traumatic reaction.

How Can I Tell If My Child Has Been Traumatized?

Any unusual behavior that begins shortly after a severely frightening episode or medical procedure, particularly with anesthesia, may indicate that your child is traumatized. Compulsive, repetitive mannerisms -- such as repeatedly smashing a toy car into a doll -- are an almost sure sign of an unresolved reaction to a traumatic event. (The activity may or may not be a literal replay of the trauma.) Other signs of traumatic stress include:

--persistent, controlling behaviors
--regression to earlier behaviors such as thumb-sucking
--tantrums, uncontrollable rage attacks
--hyperactivity
--a tendency to startle easily
--recurring night-terrors or nightmares, thrashing while asleep, bed-wetting
--inability to concentrate in school, forgetfulness
--excessive belligerence or shyness, withdrawal or fearfulness
--extreme need to cling
--stomach aches, headaches, or other ailments of unknown origin

Reactivating a traumatic symptom need not be cause for concern. The physiological processes involved, primitive as they are, respond well to interventions that both engage and allow them to follow the natural course of healing. Children are wonderfully receptive to experiencing the healing side of a traumatic reaction. Your job is simply provide an opportunity for this to occur, with you as a witness."

--from _Waking the Tiger:  Healing Trauma_, by Peter A. Levine, PhD.


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